Here’s a list of Disney Live Action Remakes that I enjoyed:
The Jungle Book (2016)
Pete’s Dragon (2014)
Here’s a list of Disney Live Action Remakes that I did not enjoy:
Beauty and the Beast (2017)
The Lion King (2019)
Now, I could go into each and explain the things that I did and did not like about each movie (and certainly, there were things I did and did not like in each one), but given the amount and the general structure of these remakes, plus general quandary that are the Alice and Maleficent live action films, there is a question that mostmany some people ask which is:
2018 had a lot going on, media-wise. We started Marvel’s endgame with Avengers: Infinity War, Jodie Whittaker took up the mantle of the Doctor, and an actual, unmistakable Science Fiction film won Best Picture at the Oscars. On top of that, Black Panther made all of the money, Neflix’s reboot of Queer Eye premiered, and the new title in the Smash Bros. series was released with a new storyline aspect that shocked much of the fan community.
Over here, in this small corner of the internet, we’ve gone a few new places, visited some old (and some really old) favorites, and played with some new ideas that will be carried through to the new year (I keep promising to normalize the schedule, maybe 2019 will be the year that it happens!). In addition to talking about stuff I like, which is this blog’s main purpose, I talked about a few things I didn’t (and explained why), and a few things that I like, but maybe with an asterisk. We also talked shop on the actual building blocks of story and some academic concepts that create the stories that we like to talk about.
Today marks the 90th anniversary of the premier of “Steamboat Willie”, which Disney marks as the birthday of one Mickey Mouse. Mickey is a bit hard to write about, because what do you say? Walt was very good at writing a story, and his story about Mickey is more or less the story of the company itself. With Mickey as the company mascot, the two are so entwined that to tell the history of one precludes the other. Mickey is such an iconic symbol he is recognized across the world, as recognizable as the Buddha, Jesus, and the Coca-Cola logo.
But he’s also a character.
He’s been in shorts, in films, on TV, on radio, in comics– if Disney could make it, Mickey was on it. Lunch boxes. Toothbrushes. Gas masks. There is a definitive character to him, a distinctive “Mickeyness” that he has no matter where he is.
“…the effect of that huge surface environment, on you, personally, is vast. The effect of the program is incidental.” – Marshall McLuhan
“The medium is the message” is one of those concepts that sounds too simple considering how big and important it is– kind of like how E = mc2 doesn’t look to be the groundbreaking revolution of 20th century physics that it is. “The medium is the message” is about how the mediums and technologies change our lives in a more immediate and concrete sense than any one idea, even looking across history. Which had more impact, Martin Luther’s 95 theses or Gutenberg’s printing press? Which was more important, the Ford Model T or the assembly line? Which shaped the 20th century more, Einstein’s theory of relativity or the atom bomb? McLuhan focused on the transition of popular media from print (books, magazines, etc.) to electronic (radio and television). His point was that the invention of the television and its use as a commercial home appliance had a more direct and immediate impact on our culture than any individual program televised. It’s not that the programs don’t matter, it’s that the technologies through which those ideas travel are often overlooked in favor of those ideas.
So why am I talking about a theme park?
James Cameron’s Avatar was… not a good movie. I mean, yes, it’s gorgeous and the technology used to create the film is fascinating, but as a movie? Can you name five characters from Avatar? Or describe the plot in a sentence without using the words “Pocahontas” or “FernGully”? Avatar is actually one of the most clear examples of “the medium is the message”, in that the plot and ideas of Avatar matter far less to the world writ large than the impact of the technologies that were used and developed in its filming. Avatar changed the way we make movies far more than it did any particular aspect of storytelling. So when Disney adapted the world to a theme park, it actually made more sense than it seemed. Avatar was always more about immersing the viewer in its environment than its story, which makes it perfect for the medium of theme parks.
From character archetypes last week to character analysis this week. One of the favorite pastimes of Harry Potter fans (other than complaining about Harry Potter stuff) is sorting characters who are not in Harry Potter into the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. There are a few schools of thought as to how to go about this. The simplest is the way that it appears to happen in the books — heroes in Gryffindor, villains in Slytherin, smart people in Ravenclaw, everyone else in Hufflepuff. This, to many, is quite reductive and does not fully encapsulate the complexities of what the houses have come to represent. However, this is also how the houses are seen within the general public due to the nature of how the books were written. Sorting characters is as much literary analysis and, specifically, character analysis, as much as it is kinda fun.
The first time I did one of these posts, I wrote about the original Disney princess. Now, I’m going to talk about my favorite. Beauty and the Beast is as much of an artistic triumph as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,if not more, given that it won at least some of the Oscars it was nominated for. While Belle is not necessarily the Disney Princess– that would probably have to go to Cinderella– she is almost always included in and on any merchandise for the brand (see my post on the Disney Princess brand for more info). Plus, Belle and Ariel were the first to ring in the Disney Renaissance, which put Disney back on the map in terms of being a studio powerhouse.
As with the last post, we’ll be looking at the history of the character and her story, as well as go into the production of the film and its impact on popular culture at large. I’ll also take a dive into some of her other portrayals, both within the Disney company and without (though certainly not all of them, and I’ll explain that as well). It’s called a tale as old as time for a reason, and Disney’s film is no exception.
Character motivation is possibly the most important aspect of narrative writing. Without character motivation, there’s no plot. And while narrative art without plot does exist (just ask Dziga Vertov or Godfrey Reggio) most books, films, tv shows, stage productions, and other things that we tend to associate with the art of language (as opposed to visual or musical art) has some kind of plot. And the most basic of these plots? Character wants something, has to overcome obstacles to get it, and either succeeds or fails. Luke Skywalker wants an adventure, he leaves the planet, blows up a Death Star, and becomes a hero. Indiana Jones wants to find the Ark of the Covenant, he contacts an old girlfriend, flies to Egypt, and the Nazi’s faces melt. Prince Hamlet wants to avenge his father’s murder, he grapples with his mental illness, distances himself from his social circle, and then kills King Claudius, but dies in the process.
Character motivations can change over the course of a story, usually as a “be careful what you wish for” kind of thing. You also can have unmotivated characters that are notable in their lack of motivation. But most plot consists of the motivation of the protagonist coming directly into conflict with the motivation of the antagonist, or the motivation of society, or the motivation of the universe itself sometimes. Figuring out your protagonist’s motivation is entangled in the plot and conflict of the story.
I’m going to look at a few different stories with varying complexity in terms of motivations and how they work, because unlike my other writing advice, figuring out your own character’s motivation is individual to your character and story. You can list a million different stories that have a million different characters with a million different motivations. I’m looking at these stories, but there are plenty more examples to look at if you’re having trouble.
So the most popular post on here is still my post about the Disney Princesses and their cultural impact, but that was more the Disney Princesses as a brand. I didn’t really talk much about the girls individually, and that is worth doing because each of them are unique characters in their own right. Yes, even Princess Aurora. This new series is to highlight the history and character of each of the Disney princesses and talk about their films on an individual basis. I might expand out to doing profiles on other Disney characters (Prince John is actually much more interesting than Robin Hood makes him out to be), but if we’re starting with the princesses, we might as well start with the princess that started everything.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is an historical feat of animation– the first ever cel-animated, full-length feature film. Of course, with how old it is and how much people praise it, there is the inevitable backlash. Many people find it boring, say it doesn’t have a good message, say it’s sexist, etc. Filmmaking and storytelling of the 1930’s can be quite different from the sensibilities of current moviegoers, but this film is still an excellent piece of cinema and an important one at that.
2017 was a rough year for media and those who love fiction. Almost every major franchise underwent major polarizing events, from Harry Potter to Marvel to Star Wars and Star Trek, and that’s not to mention the changes to the landscape. The only thing I can say is that I hope it allows new creative voices to shine with less of the weight of what comes before them.
There was a lot to like this year though. I personally enjoyed Justice League and Wonder Woman and The Last Jedi and the new Thor movie. Coco was true to form for PIXAR, the new DuckTales is a phenomenal blend of Gravity Falls and the Donald Duck comics, and Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Stranger Things were incredibly bingable. Doing this blog is still fun (though apologies for another unintended hiatus!) and is definitely something I want to continue, though I might switch around the schedule and the way I plan out posts. We went to some stranger places, some academic places, and some downright obscure places, but I talked about the things I loved, and maybe some things that you love as well.
When it comes to Broadway adaptation of movie musicals, the best by far is Julie Taymor’s reinterpretation of The Lion King. Disney in fact owns a large corner of the Movie-to-Broadway market. Many of their biggest hits have been adapted, from Beauty and the Beast, to The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Marry Poppins, and High School Musical— plus, Frozen just finished previews in Denver and set to open in February. It makes sense that they would adapt these properties because many of Disney’s decisions are based on how many truckloads of money it will earn them. That’s also why they’re remaking their most popular animated films into live-action movies.
So why adapt a bomb?
Newsies (1992) only made back 2.8 of the $15 million that was its budget, and currently sits at 39% on Rotten Tomatoes. It was nominated for five Razzies, including Worst Picture, and brought home Worst Original Song for “High Times, Hard Times”. The film stands as one of the worst failures in Disney history, along with the likes of The Black Cauldron and The Country Bears. Meanwhile, Newsies (2012), ran for two years in its original Broadway run, has had multiple national and international tours, has a filmed version currently available on Netflix after a limited theatrical release, and was nominated for eight Tonys, winning for Best Choreography and Best Original Score. It’s by no means the runaway success of Wicked or Phantom or Les Mis, but it is very successful as far as Broadway shows go. See, Newsies (1992) got popular and remained popular thanks to (what else?) Home Video, unlike some of Disney’s other bomb. It’s one of Disney’s true cult classics, and has even made the jump from VHS to DVD and Blu-Ray.
But there is a major difference between most of Disney’s shows and Newsies, and that’s just how much they revised the story in adaptation. Is it better? Is it worse?
What Great Cover Songs and The Legend of Zelda Can Teach Us About the Disney Remakes
valeriemclean1919 12tone, Arin Hanson, Beauty and the Beast, Disney, Egoraptor, Michael Eisner, Movies, Power Rangers, Sequilitus, Star Wars, The Jungle Book, The Legend of Zelda, The Lion King, The Nerdwriter About Film, About Other Art, About Writing 0 Comments
Here’s a list of Disney Live Action Remakes that I enjoyed:
Here’s a list of Disney Live Action Remakes that I did not enjoy:
Now, I could go into each and explain the things that I did and did not like about each movie (and certainly, there were things I did and did not like in each one), but given the amount and the general structure of these remakes, plus general quandary that are the Alice and Maleficent live action films, there is a question that
most manysome people ask which is:
“Why remake these movies at all?”